Kalimpong is a virgin hill station in West Bengal renowned for its panoramic valley views, Buddhists monasteries and churches and Tibetan handicrafts etc. Kalim in local dialect means King’s Minister and Pong means Stronghold. So the name Kalimpong actually means Stronghold of King’s Minister and has originated from the time of king’s dynasty in the region. Some say that the name has been derived from the word Kalibong (locals call it Kaulim). It’s a type of fiber plant used for making paper. This plant is found in abundance in Kalimpong and hence the name.
50 minutes east of Darjeeling, Kalimpong is a hill station on the foothills of Shivalik ranges at an altitude of 1250 m overlooking the Teesta Valley. People say that the area was ruled by Bhutanese kings and was a forward post of the Bhutanese Army till the 19th century. Dotted with ancient Buddhist monasteries, centuries old churches and exquisite revered temples Kalimpong marks the Bhutanese history till it was wrested by British rulers. The Jang Dong Palriffo Brang (Monastery), Thongsa Gompa (Bhutanese Monastery) are some famous places to visit. Also make sure to visit the flower markets famous for its orchids and lovely bright flowers.
Kalimpong is an excellent location to base your vacation in North Bengal. Several great tourist destinations like Lava, Loleygaon, Rishyap, Pedong and Rikkisum are part of Kalimpong district and well connected by road. You can easily make day trips to these places. In fact you can also make day trips to places like Darjeeling, Mirik, Kurseong and even Gangtok. And in case you plan to make onward holiday trips to any of these places, Kalimpong can be an excellent starting point.
Dr Graham’s Homes:
This missionary school was set up by Dr. J A Graham in 1900 as an orphanage cum school for the destitute Anglo Indian children. It started only with one cottage that accommodated up to 35 children. Over the years it has grown as a well known multi religious and co-educational school spanning over 500 acres of lush landscape and having some 50 cottages. It is located on the way to Deolo Hills. You can walk across to various parts of the school.
Lord Buddha Statue:
Close to Deolo there is a small rock garden in which you will find this nice statue of Lord Buddha sitting in a lotus position. This is only a quick stop over point and a good place to click a picture.
Sherpa View Point:
This is a watershed near Buddha statue from where you get great views towards both north and south. You get excellent views of Sikkim hills and Mount Kanchenjung if you look north, towards south is the beautiful view of a valley and the Relli river flowing through it as well Loleygaon (Kafer) and also the hills of Samthar plateau. This view point is unfortunately not well maintained.
This is a Hindu temple of Goddess Durga located near Sherpa View Point. A nice garden full of flowering plants and a viewing gallery. The temple is small but quite nice. Good place
to relax for a while.
Right after Durga Mandir is a huge statue of Lord Hanuman perched on the hill. Climb several flights of stairs to reach up to the temple.
This is the major attraction in East Kalimpong. The tourism department has created an 8-acre lush parkland with manicured flower gardens and several view points with breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga, Durpin hill, Kalimpong Township and the valley with rivers flowing through them. Deolo hill is the highest point of Kalimpong with an altitude of about 5,500ft. There is a GTA (erstwhile DGHC) lodge here and a multi cuisine restaurant. Children can also take pony rides. At one corner of the lawn are stalls offering coffee and snacks. Overall a great place to have a picnic or just relax. Entry fee: Rs. 10/- for day visitors.
An excellent temple complex built in the memory of late Guruji Mangal Dasji and dedicated to Lord Krishna. Devotees come from far away places.
This is the oldest monsatery in Kalimpong which was built in 1692. It’s also known as the Bhutan Monastery and located close to Mangal Dham.
Nature Interpretation Center:
This is a museum run by the forest department. It has many pictures and paintings of flora & fauna explaining the nature and environment of Kalimpong area. It’s located close to the town.
Army Golf Course:
A scenic 9-hole golf course which was conceived and laid by the army authorities. You can see the golf course from the roadside Watershed View Point. From here you also get splendid views of the mountains as well as Loleygaon. It’s located close to the Circuit House.
This used to be an old British property and reflect a typical colonial architecture with sprawling garden and views of Kanchenjunga. It has been converted into a hotel and now run by West Bengal Tourism Department. You can enter the premises and walk around, but can not go upstairs in the building where most rooms are located. Morgan House is located opposite to the Army Golf Course.
This Tibetan monastery is located on the Durpin hill and hence such name. The actual name is Zang Dog Palri monastery. It was built in 1972 and has some rare Buddhist scripts that were brought here by Dalai Lama from Tibet. From the upper terrace of the monastery, you get magnificent views of Kalimpong town with Kanchenjunga in the background, the valley and the plains, Teesta & Reang rivers flowing down, and lovely tea estates of Peshoke area.
Jelepla View Point:
You get spectacular view of Jelepla Pass which once used to be a route for regular trade with Tibet. You can also see the confluence of river Teesta, Reang and Relli. The view point is maintained by the army.
Pratima Tagore House:
This house with nice garden and lovely views was built by Pratima Tagore in 1943, daughter-in- law of the poet Rabindranath Tagore. You will find original furnishing, lot of memorabilia and poet’s verses in this house. It is located on Atisha road close to the Pine View Nursery.
Pine View Nursery:
It has great collections of cactus and ornamental plants. You get great view of Kalimpong town from the backside lawn. Entry fee: Rs. 10/- per person.
Shopping in Kalimpong
You can shop around in the few touristy shops in the main bazaar. Don’t hesitate to bargain, you can haggle quite a bit if you want to. Its fixed price, but you won’t get a better deal anywhere else in town. To buy clothes all you have to do is to visit R.C, Mintri Don’t leave Kalimpong without tasting locally made lollipops.One can shop for variety of wares from China, Tibet and Bhutan. The local items like thankas, daggers, tea cups, footwear and lanterns are abundantly available here.